Turkey Facts

Here are some top facts about turkeys that you may not know –

  • Around 46 million turkeys are consumed in America on Thanksgiving Day.
  • The average person in the United States will eat 15 pounds of turkey this year.
  • The average weight of a turkey bought for Thanksgiving is 15 pounds.
  • A turkey egg is 50% bigger than an egg from a chicken.
  • A turkey can run up to 25 mph and can hit 55 mph during flight.
  • Commercially raised turkeys are unable to fly.
  • The tradition of breaking the wishbone or “furcula”, dates back to the the Etruscans, an ancient Italian civilization. They they thought the birds had divine powers and and they made wishes upon the furcula. The ancient Romans later adopted this custom.
  • The record for the heaviest turkey to date is 86 pounds, around the size of a big dog.
  • On average, a 15 pound turkey will yield 70% light meat and 30% dark meat.
  • Turkey has more protein than beef or chicken.
  • Upon maturity, a turkey will have an average of 3,500 feathers.
  • The turkey gobble sound can be heard from over a mile away by the human ear.
  • Turkeys cannot see very well at night or in the dark.
  • It takes around 75 pounds of feed to rear a 30 pound turkey.
  • A 16 week old turkey is called a “fryer”, a “roaster” will be between 5 and 7 months old, a yearling is one year old, and a 15 month turkey or older is called mature.
  • Did the Pilgrims Eat Turkey? – There is a lot of controversy around this question, and the truth is that no one really knows. Wild turkey was plentiful, so the Pilgrims may have eaten it at their Thanksgiving feast, but the Pilgrims dined mostly on venison and seafood.
  • Do They Eat Turkey in Turkey? – The short answer is no, despite the fact that turkeys were, in fact, named after Turkey. Prior to the Pilgrims arriving in the Americas, the Turkish were importing large guinea fowl from Madagascar. The English didn’t know what to call these birds, so they started calling them “turkeys” after the Turkish that were importing them. 
  • Wild turkeys sleep in trees
  • Among the more surprising facts about turkeys is that they have three-times better vision than humans. They can also see in color, and their eyesight covers 270 degrees.
  • One can tell a turkey’s gender by their poop shape. Female droppings have a spiral shape while those of males are ‘J’ shaped.
  • Turkeys swallow stones to aid digestion. Turkeys don’t have teeth, so they swallow small stones to help grind up food in their first stomach—the gizzard. Bonus fact: turkeys have two stomachs. 
  • Only male turkeys, or toms, can make a call known as a “gobble,” and they mostly do it in the spring and fall. It is a mating call and attracts the hens. Wild turkeys gobble when they’re surprised by loud sounds and when they settle in for the night. The wild turkey can make at least 30 different calls!
  • The loose red skin attached to the underside of a turkey’s beak is called a wattle. When the male turkey is excited, especially during mating season, the wattle turns a scarlet red. The fleshy flap of skin that hangs over the gobbler’s beak is called a snood and also turns bright red when the bird is excited.
  • A baby turkey is called a poult, chick, or even turklette. An adult male turkey is called a tom and a female is a hen.
  • The average life span of a wild turkey is three or four years.

About Kevin

Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-UPI, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Trustee RD 2137, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction
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